I was checking my e-mail and drinking a cup of coffee at home this morning and guess who dropped by to leave some samples? Aldo and Franco Conterno. I am sure you know, but Aldo is one of the masters of Barolo at his winery, Aldo Conterno. He had gone to a friend’s birthday last night that was near me in Tuscany, and he decided to drop the samples off at the last minute.
Anyway, we all had a coffee in my kitchen and spoke about a few things. Aldo said that the harvest looks excellent so far. Although Barolo had some drought problems at the beginning of the summer, there have been a few rains since and it is looking very good. “The leaves of the vine look fresh and green,” said his son Franco, who added that they were about 10 days ahead of normal. They thought they would start picking Dolcetto at the end of August, and the Nebbiolo near the end of September.
“It’s just about normal when you think about it," Aldo said – at least normal for the recent top vintages. They didn’t think it was anything like 2003, even though some press reports had said so. The heat this year has been nothing like 2003.
Aldo said that they had a hailstorm on July 27 in the middle of Bussia area of Barolo, near the town of Monforte. It hammered their Romarisco vineyard, which is the heart of their great Barolo blend called Gran Bussia. “We probably lost 50 percent of the grapes, but what is left is excellent,” explained Aldo. “The bunches are small and beautiful.”
Hail seems to be a common problem in Bussia. Aldo reminded me that they wouldn’t be making any Cicala, one of their single vineyard Barolos, from 2004 because of hail. That’s a shame because the 2004 looks to be an excellent year.
Anyway, fingers are crossed for an excellent 2007. “The grapes really do look beautiful,” said Aldo. "But a lot can still happen in the next weeks. My father used to say that the grapes are only really beautiful when you have picked them and they are in the crusher.”
I thought I would add a tasting note of a 1997 Barolo I drank a couple of nights ago at home. It wasn’t Aldo’s, but it was from his friends up the road, the Massolino family.
1997 Massolino Barolo Parafada: The wine was closed at first, but after decanting it showed beautiful aromas of crushed berries and flowers, almost roses. It was full-bodied, with velvety tannins and a long, luscious finish. So fresh and youthful still. You can easily enjoy it now and hold it for years to come. 93 points, non-blind.
Daniel Grotto — August 21, 2007 1:22pm ET
Totv — La Quinta, CA — August 21, 2007 1:24pm ET
Geronimo Dotel — dominicanrepublic — August 21, 2007 6:18pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — August 21, 2007 10:30pm ET
James Suckling — — August 22, 2007 3:29am ET
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